Carbohydrates

Average total carbohydrate intake in the NDNS was close to the DRV of 50% energy. The main sources were cereals, bread, savory snacks, vegetables, and potatoes. Fiber intakes, expressed as nonstarch polysaccharide (NSP), were 10-13gday_1, which approached 70% of the adult guideline. Vegetables, potatoes, and savory snacks together contributed 40% of NSP. Interesting, there was no clear relationship between NSP and bowel movements, although it was noted that adolescents who experienced less than one bowel movement per day tended to have NSP intakes at the lowest end of the distribution spectrum. The mean intake of nonmilk extrinsic sugars (a proxy for added sugars) was 16% of energy, around 4 percentage points higher than the DRV of 11% food energy. Key sources were soft drinks (providing 42% of sugars), sugar preserves, and confectionery, particularly chocolate. Children from lower income households tended to have lower intakes of total carbohydrate, nonmilk extrinsic sugars, and NSP compared with children from higher income households.

Recommendations to reduce fat are often accompanied by those urging a decrease in added sugars due to concerns about obesity, dental health, and micronutrient dilution. However, an inverse relationship between fat and sugars is evident in the majority of dietary surveys, suggesting that concurrent reductions in fat and sugar may neither be realistic nor totally beneficial. A previous survey found a difference of 4% energy from fat between children in the lowest and highest thirds of sugar intake. Observational studies, including the latest NDNS, have also found an inverse relationship between body mass index and sugar intake. Explanations for this include self-imposed sugar restrictions amongst heavier people, and food choices in favor of higher sugar, low-fat foods, which could be less obesigenic. With respect to the potential impact of added sugars on micro-nutrient dilution, studies in the UK, Germany, and the US have found that a broad range of sugar intake is consistent with adequate micronutrient intakes. This may be partly due to fortification of sugar-containing foods, e.g., breakfast cereals. Lower levels of vitamins and minerals tend to be seen only at the upper and lower extremes of sugar consumption, suggesting that these diets lack variety.

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